Each weekend, "FOB" will appear in a different town --
"It's such a great idea. Really fun," said playwright
The title stands for "fresh off the boat," a reference to the conflict between newly arrived immigrants to
The restaurant tour might be the first of its kind.
"The idea has been accumulating for a while," said
"I would always think, 'How did they get here? What is their story?' So that has been kind of blooming in my mind."
The play asks some of those same questions, and they're likely to come up after the performances in question-and-answer sessions dubbed
"People always know chop suey, which is not even Chinese but it's how Chinese food became popular here," said
"People not in the big cities still don't know a lot about Chinese food. I think we'll make them a little more open about how Chinese food comes to them."
Cheung is curious to see how the actors will interact with each other, her staff and her customers.
"It's a really good idea," she said. "In the beginning, we may not have a lot of people to see the play, but more people will come in."
Reyes is busy preparing his cast to perform in spaces where they have not had an opportunity to rehearse.
"They'll just have to adapt," Reyes said. "I'll say, 'On this part, I want you to go to a table somewhere and speak to someone who is sitting there,' and they will just have to find that person."
"We're completely aware people will be walking around and that they may enter or leave during the performance," Sharp said.
"We're looking at making it an experience that is immersive, in terms of them understanding that the setting is really important.
"It's not just performing a play in a Chinese restaurant," he said. "The reason we're in the restaurant is that these are experiences they have gone through and that the people in the play have gone through, too."
It was restaurant owners who were most crucial to the restaurant tour and who took the most convincing, Reyes said.
"Because it's such a crazy idea, the concept is hard to wrap your head around," Reyes said.
"We wanted to be able to pay them for their food, obviously -- which is part of our grant (Mu received an Arts Tour Minnesota grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board) -- so that makes it a little easier. And we have good arts partners in each town. We're not part of those communities, so it was important to have partners who are good liaisons for us."
Even with all that planning, Reyes isn't sure what's going to happen.
"I've never seen anything like this, so I'm really curious," Reyes said. "I just want to watch the audience from the moment they come in and start eating food and then, suddenly, a show is starting around them. I'm excited about the synergy that will create."
Hwang won't be there in person, but he's eager to hear how it works out. And if he could be there, he knows what he'd want to ask the Chinese-American restaurant owners.
"I'm interested in arrival stories," he said. "I generally would want to know -- if, indeed, they are immigrants -- where people grew up and why they came to this country. What were they looking for?
"But what I want to know first is: 'What should I order? What's good to eat?' "
What: "FOB MN Tour"
FYI: "FOB" also will be performed in
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